Running Problems

Cramps-A cramp occurs when a muscle shortens and contracts suddenly causing great pain, they commonly occur in calf muscles. They are often caused by overexertion or dehydration.When you are dehydrated there is an electrolyte imbalance in your muscle cells that can cause that muscle to spasm.The main electrolytes to cause muscle cramps are potassium, sodium and calcium.An imbalance occurs when too much or too little of the electrolytes are in our systems.

If you are suffering from muscle cramps, DRINK MORE! Sports drinks are a good way to replace the lost electrolytes, drink a bottle before or after a run, but remember, they are very sweet and if drank all day can cause weightgain. An alternative to that is to take a supplement. Most multi vitamins contain the above electrolytes. I took a supplement called Magnesium Phosphate when I was running long distances and suffering from a lot of cramps and found it gave relief. The main advice though is to stay hydrated. This humidity is causing lots of sweating and a greater loss of fluid. We tend to lose more of the electrolytes through sweat, especially sodium.

To treat a cramp, stretch it out gently, light massage and ice is a good relief

Stitch-A stitch is a sharp pain felt just under your ribs.It commonly occurs when running and can be painful. It is thought to happen due to inadequate oxygen supply to the muscles involved with breathing, the diaphragm and intercostals.It could also be connected to what you have eaten or drank in the past 24 hours to running, or eating just prior to running.

If you suffer from stitches, slow down, but don't stop, as it will only start again when you start to run again. Try pushing your fingers into the area where the pain is or pinching the area.

The way you breathe can help as well. Runners tend to take short, sharp breaths, try taking deep breaths when you get a stitch and exhale through pursed lips (as if blowing out birthday candles). Take note of which way the wind is blowing on your run, sometimes when we run into a head wind we tend to swallow air as well as breathing it and that can cause a pain in the belly. To prevent this try running with your teeth closed but your lips open and be aware of breathing the air through your nose and exhaling it forcefully through your mouth. It is common practice to exhale when our right foot hits the ground and often stitches occur in the right side, because the force is greater through the right side, try changing the side you exhale on. i.e. exhale when your left foot contacts the ground and see if this improves it.

The new way to breath is belly breathing, this technique is practised though yoga, it just means breathing deep into your stomach and not just using your lungs, this can help with preventing stitches

Diet can cause stitches as well, try not to drink too much just before you start a run, have a drink about 30mins before and just sip your drink, don't skull. It's often not we you eat the hour before you run that causes a stitch it can be what you ate the day before. A greasy feed 24hours before you run can cause a stitch..fat in our diet takes the longest to burn and it can still be hanging around 24hours later, ready to strike out when you run.

Chaffing-A lazy Runner asked me the other day about sore nipples (no I won't reveal HIS name), and I thought that's a good one for the tip page. A combination of movement, moisture and nylon can be lethal to men's nipples.

When I finished the Melbourne Marathon a couple of years ago I was stunned to see so many men walking around with their shirts off and bleeding nipples! I can't comment on the state of the women as they had their shirts on, but I had a quick peak at mine and pleased to say they were intact!

Because we like to wear the lightest clothing next to our skin when running, and most running singlets have nylon in them, the friction and sweat can cause painful chaffe rashes. Short of purchasing a 'Man Bra', a couple of remedies are; Bandaids-the little round ones are ideal, just remember to take them off before you go to the beach or you may get some strange looks; and the good old fashioned vaseline, a couple of dollops will do the trick; I like Paw Paw cream, you can buy it in a red tub cheaply from most supermarkets or chemists, its thick and natural and is also great for a lot of other applications.

Now if you thought that was all pretty personal, there's more....another problem area for chaffing in men is....( I can sense the grimacing from here)..remedies for that are good,firm fitting, cotton undies, the aim is to reduce the movement and the moisture, and the trusty Paw Paw cream works well in that area as well.

This subject reminds me of a story a guy told me a few years ago about the first marathon he ran..He was 19 and running the Melbourne Marathon for the first time, he arrived in the city the day before and went shopping, he saw some new bewt running shorts with the mesh inlay and thought I will buy those and wear them on the run tommorrow.

On the morning of the big race he put on the new shorts, no undies, as he thought that was the way you wore them, and off he ran, at the 30km mark he needed a leak(his word not mine) so he ran behind a tree and went to pull the shorts down and felt incredible pain, so he thought I won't worry, just keep running.

He finished the marathon and once again tried to go to the toilet but, same thing, shorts wouldn't budge and a lot of pain, so he went to the first aid tent.

Long story short, he ended up in a  Melbourne emergency room, where a nurse with tweezers and scissors took an hour to remove the mesh from his red bleeding balls(his word not mine). He went on to run 10 more marathons after that and of course he wore undies every time! The moral to this story, wear your jocks... and don't wear a brand new article of clothing the day of a big run....but I will save that one for another tip page.




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